The Services Challenge
Guest Blogger: John O’Melia
It wasn’t too long ago when the IT group in almost all large companies selected the technology platforms upon which they would build the business applications for the organization. For many the goal was to deliver enterprise class solutions that could be rolled out across the organization with manageable pain and be supported and maintained with a reasonable TCO. The “magic” for many of these organizations was getting just enough business user involvement to validate their work. They would identify business unit representatives to be involved in their vendor selection work and in their requirements definition work and they would leverage these same folks to help to drive the implementation of the solution to their business units in the later stages of the project.
In this model most IT groups generally made one of two mistakes:
1) They designed and built a true enterprise solution that was cost effective to develop, implement and support but was so generic it left business users with only a 70% to 80% solution that had few, if any, of the key features that was essential to their business unit needs.
2) Or they designed and built an enterprise solution that was so overly customized to the needs of each business unit that it became almost impossible to support and maintain and became a TCO nightmare for the organization.
It was an incredibly difficult balancing act for an organization to get this right and in truth most failed to do so.
As we move into the Post PC Era business users and the IT group both want their cake and they both want to eat it too! Business users will insist on solutions that meet their specific business needs and if the IT group will not provide them they are more than capable of finding and engaging a service provider who will. On the IT side of the house they still want to standardize on a limited number of technology platforms that provide the business controls they need and provide an overall TCO that works for the organization, but they no longer feel the need to run and support all of these applications. The enterprise software companies who are most likely to thrive in the future are the ones who can provide software and services that makes both business users and the IT group happy. A key ingredient in making these two groups happy is having a services organization equipped to deliver the business value they require.
These changes are having a profound impact on the Consulting and Education teams within forward thinking enterprise software companies. On the consulting side the skill mix is starting to change and this change will only accelerate. The killer skillset is starting to move away from the traditional technical architect and technical developer and is moving more and more to business analysts and business consultants. These resources will work closely with the business units and IT to understand their needs and will quickly configure solutions to meet these needs and even teach end users and IT professionals how to make these configuration changes themselves.
On the Education side of the house, the days of delivering end user and technical classroom training days or even weeks in advance of users actually getting their hands dirty with the solution or technology are fast coming to an end. Today users want to consume training at a time and location that works for them and in a medium that is effective. This means they want to have the education material on hand just as they are starting to work with the system or technology in anger. The style of training they desire is much more the YouTube style of educational video clips they can call up to learn about the specific features / functions they are working with. Education groups will need to transform how they produce and deliver their training material to meet these new expectations.
The role of the Services organization within an enterprise software company is changing at a rapid pace to meet the new challenges of the Post PC Era. I believe these changes are vital though as the Services organization will fast become the core of the enterprise software business in the bright new world!Post-PC Era comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.